The 2019 ShipRocked Cruise set sail on January 26 from Galveston, Texas, making stops at Cozumel and the Yucatán in Mexico along the way, returning to Galveston on January 31. The boat trip featured performances from Papa Roach, Sevendust, Suicidal Tendencies, Bullet for My Valentine, I Prevail, Tremonti, and many more.
Our writer, Liz Ramanand, and photographer Amy Harris, documented the 10th edition of the cruise, as seen in the diary and gallery below.
The tenth anniversary of ShipRocked was celebrated as fans boarded the Carnival Valor at the port of Galveston in Texas. The boat was filled with “Survivors” who were returning ShipRockers over the years and some “Newbs” sprinkled in — the first timers.
Waiters with pink drinks in hand and the smell of burgers frying on the grill filled the air near the deck stage as fans waited for their staterooms. No matter what part of the boat you’re located in, one of the worst parts of any cruise is the dreaded (but needed) safety drill. Thankfully we had our trusted cruise director Cookie, who knows how to make everyone smile with his sassy announcements on the PA system.
In our assigned Muster Station H, we were lucky enough to be in company with the very friendly Megadeth bassist Dave Ellefson, along with Sevendust and Nonpoint members around us, smiling and chatting with fans.
As the ship began to move away from the port, clouds above began moving in. The wind picked up and the temperature dropped. Wilson heated things up quite a bit with their partying ways o stage for the sail away show. Frontman Chad Nicefield of the Detroit rock band donned bright yellow-and-black plaid pants and blazer onstage.
Onetime tourmate Hyro the Hero also joined Wilson onstage for a song and the energy intensified. Wilson are ShipRocked veterans and gained a lot of fans through the cruise over the years. They know how to have fun and always know how to make fans smile on and off the boat. They’ve run across Caribbean beaches in the bikinis on previous ShipRocked Cruises and it was fitting for them to start the party.
Most ShipRockers didn’t pack winter gear but we all certainly needed it when Nonpoint hit the Deck Stage next. Elias Soriano kept it old-school will a K-Swiss sweatshirt and it was a full on dread-bang for the band’s energetic set.
They performed songs from their latest album, X, including “Dodge Your Destiny” and “Chaos and Earthquakes”, which also featured Hyro the Hero, who happens to be a huge Nonpoint fan. Another memorable moment was when Hellyeah’s Chad Gray performed “Bullet with a Name” to round out the set. Gray has understandably been quiet since drummer Vinnie Paul’s passing but it was stirring to see him return to the stage and also chat with fans one-on-one throughout the cruise.
Motionless in White were the first band to christen the Ivanhoe Theater. Fans gave the ShipRocked newcomers a very warm response as they performed their notable track “Voices”.
Welsh rockers Bullet for My Valentine were also ShipRocked newbies and tore it up in the theater later in the evening. They played “Don’t Need You” from their latest album, Gravity, along with notable older tracks “Scream Aim Fire” and “Tears Don’t Fall”. Earlier in the cruise, we met a father and son duo who came all the way from the suburbs in Wales and happened to be big Bullet for My Valentine fans.
Veterans and ShipRocked ambassadors Sevendust took to the Deck Stage next for a family reunion. It was the band’s ninth time on ShipRocked (let’s forget about that one year when they weren’t on the lineup). Sevendust have become such a part of the ShipRocked’s DNA and fan favorites throughout the years.
The band unleashed deep cuts like “Too Close to Hate” and “Terminator.” Another song that dug deep was “Skeleton Song”, a tune they usually don’t play. The harmonious union of frontman Lajon Witherspoon and guitarist Clint Lowery sent more chills through the air than the temperatures did.
Even though we were on our way to Mexico, it felt like winter still held its grip while on deck and the weather just wasn’t letting up for the second day.
It was a day at sea as the Carnival Valor sailed speedily to Cozumel. Seaday brunch is usually the best breakfast in the fancy Washington Dining Room; fans enjoyed steak and eggs, some hearty French toast, extra strong coffee and wonderful service from the Carnival restaurant staff.
It was a gray, cloudy day, but that didn’t stop grungy California outfit Them Evils from playing the windy Deck Stage. The band is currently on tour with Pop Evil who have also been on former ShipRocked cruises.
Other fans kept warm inside, waiting on lines for the first batch of meet and greets on the cruise which included photos with Bullet for My Valentine, Atreyu, Motionless in White, Wilson and Sevendust.
Because of the rainy weather, the schedule was moved around where bands such as Badflower and Raveneye played the Ivanhoe Theater in the late afternoon instead of earlier on the Deck Stage.
Free drinks flowed continuously for the VIP ShipRockers over in the Eagles Lounge where 10 Years played an acoustic set. RavenEye also pulled a double shift and played a more subdued, not quite acoustic set. They soulful band invited a notable British Shiprocker who rocked out with his inflatable guitar while dressed in a wig and cheerleader outfit, appropriate for the gender swap theme night.
It wasn’t until closer to 8 p.m. that fans gathered outside for the first performance on the Deck Stage on day two. Tremonti obliterated eardrums with heavy riffs and deep melodies.
Guitarist Mark Tremonti is no stranger to ShipRocked, as he has performed on the cruise before with both his project Tremonti and Alter Bridge. When we later chatted with Megadeth bassist Dave Ellefson, he said he was most impressed by Tremonti’s performance of anyone on the cruise.
Meanwhile, over in the Lobby Stage, ShipRockers lined the staircases to watch some members of the all-star collective The Stowaways — musicians from multiple bands put together specifically for ShipRocked — perform an acoustic set. The short set included members of Stitched Up Heart and Otherwise belting out subdued covers of songs such as a Michael Jackson medley of songs, Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell” and more.
Every performer on the boat should have been in the Ivanhoe Theater to watch Suicidal Tendencies for a lesson in hardcore. It was one of the most fun, energetic, spontaneous sets ShipRocked has ever seen. Somehow the West Coast band turned the theater into an intimate hardcore show.
With anthems like “You Can’t Bring Me Down”, vocalist Mike Muir gave the crowd pep talks in family, success and doing whatever the hell you want on your terms. Drummer Dave Lombardo was relentless behind the kit and everyone onstage provided an outrageous sensory overload.
Speaking of sensory overload, Nothing More was a ShipRocked favorite last year and they continued to be this year for a multitude of reasons. Frontman Jonny Hawkins performs with every muscle, and during “Don’t Stop”, Papa Roach’s vocalist Jacoby Shaddix joined the band onstage. Nothing More and Papa Roach will be touring the UK together this year.
This day at sea wasn’t the easiest as the Carnival Valor hauled ass on rough waters to Mexico, leaving a lot of bands and fans queasy for most of the day. The remedy of good music, food (and a whole lot of Dramamine) was the cure for many ShipRockers.
With unfortunate weather and rough waves behind us, we arrived in sunny, warm Cozumel, Mexico. For anyone who wanted to pay extra for a fun beach party, it was just a short cab ride away at Playa Mia.
Black Top Mojo ended up playing two acoustic sets due to a bit of time confusion. Ship time and island time were an hour apart so fans enjoyed a double dose of bearded country-rock acoustics.
The infamous Beach Wars competition was led by members of Nonpoint and is always a good time for fans. They had to endure a hula hoop toss and horsed around during one contest which included wearing a horse mask, chugging a beverage and racing.
The full f–kery of Wilson wasn’t felt because the PA system was destroyed from a storm the night before. But they kept the party going with a fun DJ set on the beach.
While enjoying the music, there was a buffet of seasoned pork loin, rice and beans, authentic rice pudding and flan. Unlimited drinks which included margaritas, slushy strawberry daiquiris and some of the best damn amaretto sours you can find. There was also beer… lots and lots of beer.
Tanned with sand in our shoes, we boarded the Carnival Valor and sailed off to the Yucatan Peninsula. The Stowaways kicked things off on the Deck Stage. They played heavy favorites such as Metallica’s “Seek and Destroy” and Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name of.”
Linkin Park’s “One Step Closer” was sung by everyone in honor of the late Chester Bennington. An emotional performance of “Sunglasses at Night” for a veteran ShipRocker and a major part of The Stowaways, late All That Remains guitarist Oli Herbert. The song was Herbert’s number one choice to play every year but the Stowaways haven’t played it until now.
The set ended with everyone onstage with Anthrax’s Frank Bello, David Ellefson, guitarist Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal to sing the ultimate party anthem, KISS’ “Rock and Roll All Nite.”
Later in the evening, Islander also hit the Deck for a forceful set. Frontman Mikey Carvajal jumped into the crowd during “Lucky Rabbit” and the lyrics, “You’ve been talking to the dead” ironically fit perfectly with the Dia del Los Muertos theme night. Brian “Head” Welch also made a surprise appearance with the band during the set.
With dreamy vocals and magenta light, 10 Years rocked the Ivanhoe Theater. Many of their fellow Tennessee squad showed up in full support, as fans sang in unison to “Fix Me”.
Altitudes & Altitude had one of the most fun performances of the cruise. The duo comprised of Anthrax’s Frank Bello and Megadeth’s Dave Ellefson were joined by Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal on guitar and John Tempesta on drums for their live gigs, and performed in the Lobby Stage. Ellefson said that this project with Bello was derived from the Big Four concerts which included Megadeth, Anthrax, Slayer and Metallica.
The group performed a setlist of original tunes from their latest album, Get It Out, as well as some KISS party songs. It felt like watching a bunch of teenagers jam in their garage, having the best time. During the set, Ellefson looked up and said, “There’s always a Slayer guy haunting me”, directing the line toward drummer Dave Lombardo, who decided to check out their set.
One of the last sets of the night that had the crew, security guards and Carnival staffers all rocking out was Papa Roach on the Deck Stage. The band cranked out new tracks from their brand new album, Who Do You Trust?, including the title track along with “I Suffer Well” and “Elevate.”
Everybody bounced to older songs such as “Last Resort”, Getting Away with Murder”, and “Between Angels and Insects”. In between the band’s set there was also a very sweet proposal between fans. Shaddix gave them advice to get through the tough times. He spoke from experience as he said he is celebrating 21 years of marriage with his wife, who was also on the ship.
ShipRockers woke up in the beautiful Yucatan Peninsula at Port Progreso. There were many different excursions but we took the long drive to the city of Chichen Itza, one of the “New Seven Wonders of the World”.
We visited the center of the archeological site, the El Castillo temple along with other ancient Mayan ruins. We also went to the Ik Kil Cenote, which is a natural sinkhole with a pool of groundwater which was open to the public for swimming. Surrounded by limestone and vines, the Cenote encompassed the magic of the Yucatan Peninsula and Mayan culture.
It was a long drive back to the Carnival Valor, where we reboarded and started sailing away from Mexico. The Stowaways graced the stage again but this time it was a special tribute to the Abbott brothers. Darrell “Dimebag” Abbott has always been celebrated on the cruise but the passing of Vinnie Paul was a tough one for ShipRockers, especially since he was on ShipRocked 2016 with Hellyeah.
Ellefson shared a story about Dimebag that’s known among metal fans. When Megadeth needed a guitarist, they called up Dimebag, who said, “With me comes my brother.” The Megadeth bassist then asked, “Can you imagine if Dimebag and Vinnie joined Megadeth?”
The tribute set included songs that influenced the Abbott brothers and was filled such classics as Megadeth’s “Sweating Bullets; Korn’s “Blind” with Chad Gray on vocals and Brian “Head” Welch on guitar; and a crushing performance of Sepultura’s “Roots Bloody Roots”. There were only a few Pantera tunes, including an odd piano version of “Cemetery Gates” performed by Geoff Tate, who sounded incredible but relied on a screen for most of the lyrics. To close out, the group performed Pantera’s hit “Walk” but Pantera fans, like yours truly, itched for more.
Over on the Lobby Stage, the very entertaining artist question and answer session and featured vocalists Jesse Hasek of 10 Years; Korn guitarist Brian “Head” Welch’ Jacoby Shaddix of Papa Roach; Mike Muir of Suicidal Tendencies; and Chris Motionless of Motionless in White. The artists talked about musicians and albums that inspired them , and told some really…really bad dad jokes.
“Why did the life guard not save the hippie?” asked Welch. “Because he was too far out.” This bad dad joke was inspired by Chris Motionless, who said his passion besides music was telling dad jokes.
Speaking of dads, the panelists also talked about family life, and it turns out Suicidal Tendencies frontman Mike Muir is a softy when it comes to talking about his children.
While Q&A was interesting, it would have been nice to see at least one artist of color on the panel, considering there were multi-cultural members in a variety of bands on the boat. A female voice would have been great, too — perhaps Mlny Parsons of Royal Thunder and Kalie Wolfe of Rivals, two of the very few female rockers who were on the ship.
Back outside on the Deck Stage, Detroit band I Prevail were new to the cruise but had a damn good time with their fans, who were a small but mighty crew on the ship.
Second performances for a number of bands took place, including Bullet for My Valentine, who also go their moment on the open air on the Deck. Nonpoint and Nothing More also performed for the second time and shook the Ivanhoe Theater.
Over in the Eagle Lounge, Monster Truck and RavenEye gave fans tunes to groove to burn the midnight oil.
It was another bumpy day at sea as the Carnival Valor was sailing back to Galveston, Texas. There were a hodgepodge of events going on for ShipRockers to take part in all over the ship.
The first batch of meet and greets took place in the morning and featured Suicidal Tendencies, I Prevail, Tremonti and Nothing More. And one of the funniest moments of the cruise was the Belly Flop competition judged by comedian Brian Posehn, Frank Bello and Dave Ellefson.
Hyro the Hero’s relentless energy tested the microphone and the endurance of security with his onstage antics on the Deck Stage. There was no VIP or hierarchy of fans during his set as he wanted fans to be upfront no matter what wristband or pass they had.
A second batch of meet and greets included The Stowaways, 10 Years, Papa Roach, Nonpoint and more importantly a photo op with the best cruise director ever…Cookie. If you aren’t a part of the Cookie Crew, then you didn’t experience ShipRocked to the fullest.
With their bright floral Hawaiian shirts, Atreyu annihilated the Deck Stage. Motionless in White and Suicidal Tendencies also took the Deck Stage for their second performances later in the evening.
Papa Roach were the last to rock the Deck Stage and they brought the house down literally. The bass was so loud that the roof of the bar area next to the stage came down. No one got hurt and the Carnival crew was on top of it, fixing it before the band’s set finished.
Royal Thunder performed a powerful set in the intimate Eagle Lounge. Mlny Parson’s voice was raspy, melodic and one of the best on the ship. Their commanding presence onstage is one that should have been shown on the Deck Stage.
Mark Tremonti and his band took the stage of the Ivanhoe Theater later that night, and Sevendust ended things right with a moving performance in the same venue.
Before either band played the Ivanhoe Theater, there was a screening of Brian “Head” Welch’s emotional documentary, Loud Krazy Love. The movie, which premiered in December on Showtime, documents his early days with Korn, his struggles with addiction and most importantly his relationship with his daughter Jennea. (Read our interview with Brian and Jennea here.)
A very emotional Jacoby Shaddix had the courage to directly talk to Welch in front of everyone about how much he related to the film and story. Choking back tears, Shaddix even said he talked to Welch when he was ready to walk away from music and was dealing with inner struggles. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room.
Welch also shared that Papa Roach’s Infest was music that helped him through his divorce and dark times in his life. This moment of pure love, admiration and gratitude for one another is what ShipRocked is about.
On Thursday morning (January 31), the Carnival Valor arrived back in Texas at the Port of Galveston with ears ringing, achy muscles and our livers hating us.
Plans for ShipRocked 2020 are already under way. The music cruise will make waves from February 1st through 6th, sailing from New Orleans with stops to Key West, Florida, and Cozumel, Mexico. Let the countdown begin.
Photo Gallery of ShipRocked 2019 (click to scroll through and enlarge):
All photos by Amy Harris (@thefirst3songs)